Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Library at sea

I'd brought plenty of reading material with me, but as a public service to you, I embarked on a bit of research while on vacation. Yes, boys and girls, I've sailed the high seas — where by "sailed" I mean lounged by the pool with a margarita in hand on a boat so big you can't feel it moving, and by "high seas" I mean just the one Caribbean sea — and made my way, after a midmorning round of miniputt and margaritas, across the boardwalk, past the carousel, through Central Park, picking up another margarita en route, to scope out the library on the 11th deck (which housed nothing else worth remarking) — all so you wouldn't have to.

So just what exactly does the library of luxury cruise ship have to offer?

Monica Ali and Margaret Atwood through Iain Banks and JK Rowling to Carlos Ruiz Zafón. Mostly in English, though I spotted a few Spanish and French titles (unless all the foreign-language books were out on loan?).

There's a key posted to explain the system by which the bindings are colour-coded. A solid half of the library is fiction, but there are healthy sections of biography, history, travel, and self-help. I counted 15 books on ships and navigation.

You sign out a book by recording it in the log book by the door, but essentially it works on the honour system. There's a drop box for returns. Presumably there's an employee assigned to straightening up and reshelving.

In the few minutes I spent there, I saw a handful of people come and go, to browse, check out, and return books.

I had expected a flourescent-lit metal shelf strewn with tattered paperbacks. I found instead a cozy, traditional wood-panelled study quite at odds with much of the larger-than-life bluster splayed across the other 17 decks.

I spent most of my days as close to the sun and the water (and the bar!) as possible, but if I were confined to the boat for months, I'd be relatively content to have this library at hand.
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